the table


a lifetime ago.


not the table, i think to myself. not the table. anything but the table. please please. please.
it is the table.
i had formed my own habits and preferences in a matter of only a couple of days. was that because days felt like months, or even years, and were days no more? i didn’t know, and i hadn’t even thought about it until much later. all i did know was that the table was the worst. the hard wood against my wrists bent at unnatural angles, the long legs that seemed to stretch forever and never come to a halt, the emptiness on all four sides that left no room for cover or rest. the table was a rectangular abyss, and i was hanging by the arms at the sides. it wasn’t that i didn’t want to hold on, it was that clinging and letting go were equally impossible -- physically, bodily impossible. if i tried to sever the bonds that attached me to the table and kept me on the edge of the abyss, i was no different than a fly that happened to land on honey. and if i did nothing but just sit still and surrender to the abyss, the sheer pain in my arms erased any other thought and action from the realm of possibility. practical problems. if i rested my arms on my knees then the backs of my thighs hurt after a while; sitting with my legs stretched out comforted my back, but felt like someone was cutting my arms open to tear down every single muscle inside.

i knew why he wanted my by the table -- hanging on to the table, hanging from the table. this meant direct sight to him when he was in the kitchen, perfect vision. it was better than leaving me on the bed with the door locked from the outside, it was better than trusting my obedience and letting me sit in the kitchen with him, it was better than allowing me out in the garden among the overgrowth and all sorts of weeds and bushes that made me itch, it was better than burying me under a mound of sticks for a handful of carrots. it was better than every other thing he had or could have done because it was a perfect demonstration of his work, laid out in the open with no way out, acted out and performed for him to approve and enjoy. the fly sinking deeper and deeper into the honey, its transparent wings and oil slick body submerged further and further into the sticky golden substance.

my arms. hanged, drawn and quartered, but only by half. more practical problems. i knew my arms wouldn’t hurt as much if they were tied lower on the leg. if i pulled both knees to my chest, i could rest my elbows there for a while, and bury my head in between my knees. this worked, but since the knot was too high up, i had to pull my arms down for them to meet my knees, which meant i was once again on the edge of the abyss. not wholly inside, not safely away from it, but just on its edge. riding the edge with this monster of a burden on my back. i couldn’t lean inside because the weight would make me topple over, and i couldn’t itch away either because the weight anchored me to the ground where it was slippery with sweat and blood.


like a dog taken for a vaccination shaking to its core, i am afraid. but at least this time i know what awaits. i recognize this, i have been here before, i can take this. here is the abyss. here is where i stand. there is a limit to the time spent on the very edge of it. as soon as he is out of the kitchen, i am untied, not liberated but freed of the pain in my muscles. of all the things that go on in this medieval execution square, this is what drives me closest to madness, because this is the only act in which i am not facing him. he is not in front of me, i cannot plead with him, i cannot look him in the eye and hope to permeate, i cannot kick or push away, i cannot grip the hands that bury me alive.


i dream of leaving this house on shoulders.
i am being carried away. i am triumphant,
i am victorious. i made it out, you stayed in. 
i had to bury me to see me out.

i rest my head on my shoulder. i can see him. he can see me. i close my eyes. one of the few things he cannot take away from me. the skin on my shoulder is rough against my cheek. a thousand tiny scratches from the wiry sponge he uses to wash me down. like an old nightstand being sanded before a bored housewife bathes it in veneer and paints it all over for praises from her oblivious husband. my head rests on a meadow of thorns. i can smell the soap mixed with the blood. i can smell food. never have i ever waited so eagerly for breakfast.

here are my eggs. my hands untied, my arms finally at rest, i bury my face in the plate.